25 Things Email Marketers Don't Seem to Know -- But Should

I've been doing a good bit of travel lately, and I often struggle with the age-old battle of how to spend one's time on a plane: do I catch up on email, or thumb through the current Us Weekly? I admit it, Us Weekly often wins out.

C'mon, admit it -- you read it too! I always like to read through the celebrity "25 Things You Don't Know About Me," born from the famed Facebook exercise. So as I was reading the most recent one about Dr. Mehmet Oz (#4 - his favorite veggie is okra), it dawned on me that it would be fun to play this game with email.  So here is my list:

1.  Strategy and deliverability are not separate parts of the business; they very much impact one another.

2.  Your recipients don't innately know that doesn't accept responses.

3.  And even if they did, they don't care. Email is a two-way communication vehicle.

4.  You should encourage recipients to respond to your email; some of the most honest insight can be gained here.



5.  Yes, that means you should actually have someone monitor that box.

6.  Best time of day to send email is like the chupacabra: it doesn't really exist, but people keep looking for it.

7.  If you weren't certain, blast is the dirtiest email word a marketer can utter.

8.  And yes, you lose credibility points the minute it passes your lips.

9.  Email and direct mail are not that different in methodology and approach - just time to market.

10.    You can and should attribute revenue or value to your email efforts.

11.    Your email database is an asset and should be valued as such.

12.   If you don't know the value of an email address to your organization, you cannot effectively communicate your program's impact.

13.   Your CMO doesn't care that you have a 98% delivery rate, (s)he wants to know what it means to the business.

14.   You really should be conducting some kind of test for every email message you send out.

15.    What your email recipients say and what they actually do are two very different things.

16.   Setting proper and honest expectations at the point of subscription builds better email relationships.

17.   Your email unsubscribe should be one-click and shouldn't be hidden. If people want out, they'll find it (or complain -- you choose).

18.  Your email needs to be pretty AND have good content -- fixing your template doesn't undo all your email woes, and vice versa.

19.  Recipients will find ways to control your messages whether you make it easy for them or not -- so be a good email marketer and let 'em manage preferences.

20.  Introduce program changes prior to rolling out the revision - unless it's a test, of course.

21.  Email program success should be determined by more than just your open and click data. Doing so may require a little work,  but it should be worth every minute.

22.  The "one message for all" approach is not relevant for "all."  Really, seriously, it isn't.  

23.  Just like a friendly store greeter welcomes you to your favorite store, you should welcome your subscribers to your email program.

24.   Email is a relationship channel and has always been an effective retention tool -- that is its strength.

25.   Properly including social elements in your email campaigns can exponentially increase your reach.

This email version wasn't nearly as exciting as fun tidbits like, "I ate pizza morning, noon and night when I was pregnant with my first child," but these 25 items should certainly give you some pause to verify that you in fact DID know them, and that they are properly reflected in your email program.

8 comments about "25 Things Email Marketers Don't Seem to Know -- But Should".
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  1. Evan W from Experience Advertising, Inc., February 18, 2010 at 10:44 a.m.

    Really nice list!

  2. Chad White from Litmus, February 18, 2010 at 10:45 a.m.

    Great list, Kara, although I disagree with #17. One-click unsubscribes have nearly gone the way of the dodo, at least in the retail industry. Instead, many retailers are using their unsubscribe pages to address the reasons for opt-outs, giving subscribers the opportunity to change their preferences or opt-down. I'll be publishing a major report on unsubscribe practices in a few weeks that will provide more details.

  3. Katie Eyerly from Bay Area News Group, February 18, 2010 at 10:49 a.m.

    Love the list, but please help on #21. Do you have an example of other ways to determine success beyond open rate and click-thru?

  4. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, February 18, 2010 at 10:52 a.m.

    You made one of those wall plaques that should be hanging in every office.

  5. Kara Trivunovic from Epsilon, February 18, 2010 at 11:08 a.m.

    Chad - I completely agree, #17 was geared more towards the, "don't use a mailto: for unsubscribe and don't hide it in the email because if people want out they'll find a way." Looking forward to your report - I will keep my eyes peeled!

    Katie - other ways to determine success are going to very much depend on what the objective of the program or the message is. So if you are trying to drive sales, conversion should be the measurement of success. Others are starting to looking more closely at driving and measuring incremental behavior which provides a better indication of the impact the messaging had on a customer.

    Thanks for all the feedback! Keep it coming.

  6. Mark allen Roberts from Out of the Box Solutions, LLC, February 19, 2010 at 12:48 a.m.

    Great list,

    I wish more email marketers would read your content as poorly executed email is an epidemic as I discuss in my blog

    Mark Allen Roberts

  7. Andrea Mocchi from National Instruments, February 19, 2010 at 6:33 a.m.


    I think that quotes from an email can be considered a useful metric. If you have to promote a product, a service or a course, you can for example decide to analyze the quotes you get by 30 days after you sent out the email..

    on #25 - do it, because it works! if you have a account on a social network, ask to your contact to follow you on it. Then, when you have a consistent community, you can make them your advocates, asking them to talk about you.

  8. Amanda Maksymiw, March 4, 2010 at 5:02 p.m.

    Great list! I completely agree with #25. Incorporating social media into your newsletter strategy is an effective way to increase the impact of a newsletter. Integrating a newsletter with your blogging strategy is a great place to start.

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